A Turkish member of the Islamic State was the perpetrator of a suicide bombing that killed four foreigners in Istanbul over the weekend, the Turkish interior minister said on Sunday.
The attacker, who struck in Istanbul’s central Istiklal Avenue on Saturday morning, has been identified as Mehmet Ozturk, a Turkish citizen born in 1992 in the southern city of Gaziantep, Efkan Ala, the interior minister, said in a televised news conference.
Three Israeli citizens were killed in the attack along with one Iranian. Dozens more were injured.
An Israeli military plane on Sunday flew the bodies of the three Israeli victims home for burial. They were identified as Simha Damri, 60, a grandmother from the southern town of Dimona; Avraham Goldman, 69, a tour guide from Herzliya; and Yonathan Shor, 40, a Tel Aviv resident who worked in the technology industry. Mr. Goldman and Mr. Shor, who was also identified as Yonathan Suher by the State Department, held dual Israeli-American citizenship.
Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, told Army Radio on Sunday that there was no information to suggest the suicide bombing was specifically directed at Israelis.
The bombing on Saturday was the fourth such attack in Turkey this year, and it underscores the country’s growing vulnerability as it fights in conflicts on two fronts — one against the Islamic State in Syria, the other against Kurdish insurgents at home.
The Islamic State has not claimed responsibility for any attacks in Turkey, but officials said the group was responsible for a suicide bombing in Istanbul’s historic tourist district in January that killed 10 people, most of them German citizens. Officials also linked the group to the worst terrorist attack in Turkey’s modern history, in which 103 people were killed during a peace rally in Ankara, the Turkish capital, in October.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu